Earlier on in the week, we wrote to all the pro-Union MLAs presently serving at Stormont pointing out our belief that Unionists in Northern Ireland should be involved in helping out our pro-Union colleagues and friends in Scotland in their Referendum and asking them as our elected pro-Union representatives to assist in this task.
We were delighted to receive a reply from the leader of the UUP, Mike Nesbitt (here) and today this piece from Jim Allister.
Jim needs no introduction for N.Irish readers but for the benefit of those living elsewhere in the United Kingdom, he is the leader of Traditional Unionist Voice and represents North Antrim in the Northern Ireland Assembly. He was previously an MEP and represented Northern Ireland in Brussels for five years. He is also a senior barrister.
Our Stake in Scotland’s future: Jim Allister
I would accept that the issue of Scottish independence is a matter primarily for the people of Scotland, though it does affect the whole Kingdom. It is important for Unionists across the United Kingdom to explain why we wish them to be united to us and not break up the unity and integrity of this United Kingdom.
The links between Scotland and Northern Ireland are arguably greater than they are between Scotland and England. In spite of our separation by the Irish Sea, the cultural and historic connections are strong. One has only to think back to the Ulster Covenant, the centenary of which was celebrated just last month. Faced by a treacherous government in Westminster which planned to drive them out of the United Kingdom Unionists instinctively reached back into history and used the Scottish Covenants of the 17th century as a model upon which to build their own campaign.
In the Covenant of 1912 the people of Ulster pledged themselves to defend “for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom”. Sadly the values of the Covenant have been abandoned by many political leaders of Unionism in Northern Ireland today. They have accepted a second class citizenship where, alone among the countries which make up the United Kingdom, people are denied the fundamental democratic rights to vote a party out of government and have an opposition.
Scotland, however, has had a pivotal role in preserving that great system of government which Britain bequeathed to the world – parliamentary democracy.
And it was the United Kingdom which played a pivotal role in preserved democracy for Western Europe in two World Wars. Men from Northern Ireland and Scotland fought together and died together to preserve the values which allows the SNP to have the referendum. Had it not been for the united stand of all the constituent parts of the United Kingdom against foreign aggression none of us would have any say in how we should be governed.
But our links are not merely historic. Very many families in Northern Ireland have relatives who were educated in Scotland or have moved there to live. Tens of thousands of others visit every year.
The ongoing campaign to force Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom has also caused Unionists here to have a keen interest in the campaign. While there are profound differences to say the least between Salmond’s entirely peaceful and constitution campaign for Scottish independence and the bloody sectarian terror tactics employed by Irish Republicans a decision by the Scottish people to end their union with the rest of the UK would undoubtedly be a significant moral boost for Republicans. Similarly, Unionists in Northern Ireland will doubtless deeply feel the loss of that part of the United Kingdom with which they have the strongest historic, cultural and emotional links.
So while it is up the Scottish people I nonetheless feel that Unionists in Northern Ireland have a part to play in reminding our Scottish cousins of why we feel so passionately that we want to be united politically not just to England and Wales but to Scotland as well.
Share on Facebook